Have you ever heard of the study of Christian Apologetics? Just about all Christian colleges and seminaries have professors who specialize in this field. It basically means learning how to argue for the truth of Christian beliefs about God, creation, the meaning of life, salvation and the after-life. Throughout the centuries of Christian history, there have been sharp, gifted church leaders who have emerged at critical moments to champion the Christian worldview against atheists and advocates of other religions. But in the modern Evangelical Church, there seems to be a consensus that every believer should become an apologist for the beliefs they profess to hold. I found numerous videos that offer crash courses,1 including even one series entitled “Apologetics for Kids.”2
I’ve got some problems with this. First, the word apology itself is a stumbling block. It seems to say that I’m apologizing for my faith. I know that the original word coming from the Greek language didn’t mean that. It referred to the defendant’s counsel in a court of law. The prosecution was called the katalogia, or attack argument, and the rebuttal was called the apologia, or defense argument. But in our everyday English usage, an apology is an admission of guilt: “I’m sorry.” I don’t think we should ever appear to be apologetic about our faith in God.
I also recoil from the idea that the average Christian should be equipped to be a defender of the Faith. That’s a lot to ask of a person who has experienced a personal encounter with God. Usually, they have come to him through a moment of spiritual insight, having more to do with feelings, maybe through a caring friendship. I can’t remember ever hearing a person give a testimony of how she/he reasoned their way God as Savior. Yes, now Christian leaders tell them they should fight faith battles with intellectual arguments.
Here’s the truth: I have more training than most people in the rational arguments for believing, but I don’t think I’ve ever persuaded anyone to accept the Lord through the logic of my arguments. In my experience as a pastor, people have come to him because they realize their need to connect with the Higher Power, and when they hear about the God of Christianity, they recognize him as the one they’ve been longing to know.
As for defending the Faith, don’t we believe God can fight his own battles? Frankly, rather than my defending him, I’m counting on God to defend me. That sounds more logical, and it’s certainly more Biblical. Jesus asked us as his disciples to evangelize, not to apologize.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
1 For example: